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Pennsylvania hospital encourages HIV tests for colonoscopy patients

Pennsylvania hospital encourages HIV tests for colonoscopy patients

A suburban Pittsburgh hospital is urging about 200 patients who had colonoscopies during a four-month span to get tested for hepatitis and HIV because the instruments may not have been disinfected adequately. Forbes Regional Hospital officials said the patients' risk of exposure to a blood-borne virus was low, but the hospital contacted patients who were exposed to the instruments during colonoscopies from October 28 to February 26 and offered them free HIV and hepatitis screenings immediately and again in six months. Nearly 70 patients have contacted the hospital so far, said hospital spokesman Tom Chakurda. Staff at the Monroeville hospital's lab discovered in February that secondary channels on two recently purchased colonoscopes might not have been adequately disinfected, the hospital said in a statement Wednesday. The auxiliary channels, which are designed to flush the colon, were not used in any of the colonoscopies performed. Laura Tyler of manufacturer Olympus America Inc. said the Melville, N.Y., company has sent out reminder notices about the proper way to disinfect the instruments. The instruction manual is "detailed and explicit," she said. Tyler said she had no evidence of a "larger problem" involving the scopes. Forbes, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said similar concerns had been raised at hospitals in California and New York. CDC officials did not immediately return a call for comment. (AP)

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